"All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened
and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you
and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse,
and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was."
Ernest Hemingway

Sunday, December 23, 2012


As much of a slacker as this may make me sound, I have decided to take a short Christmas holiday from my blog.  I will immediately begin posting after Christmas Day, when I continue with my list of books and add a few new ones to peruse.

As always, thank you for visiting Reader's Reach and leave a message, comment, or suggestion.

Happy reading, and happy holidays.

- The Scrivener

Friday, December 14, 2012


Image courtesy of
Celia Rees

The Summary
For much of her life, Nancy Kington, the only daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, has been subjected to the whims of society and her brothers.  Now, forced forsake the love of her life and marry Captain Bartholome, a cruel and tyrannical man, Nancy decides to take life into her own hands.

Along with Minerva Sharpe, a former slave on the Kington plantation, Nancy and her dear friend flee aboard the pirate ship Deliverance and find a home among a band of cutthroats and thieves - and discover a vocation to which they are both perfectly suited.

But neither Nancy nor Minerva are safe.  Captain Bartholome has vowed to follow them, no matter the cost.

The Good
Celia Rees' novel is exceptionally well-written and finely detailed.  It's filled with adventure and intrigue and suspense, and it's thrilling to read.  It has just enough action, just enough drama and suspense to keep you riveted to the pages.

Besides which, Nancy Kington provides an interesting heroine for Pirates!  Far from being a damsel in distress, or a helpless maiden manipulated and contorted by her brothers's wishes and societal mores, she fights back and demands guidance for her own life.  Like her dear friend Minerva, Nancy isn't afraid to retaliate, and she certainly isn't afraid to speak her mind.

They are a particularly inspiring duo, I think.

The Bad
On certain occasions, Pirates! has several chapters prolonged by action and adventure and exciting new encounters, but the conclusion seems startlingly abrupt.  After all the anticipation and suspense, it seems to end far too quickly - and it wasn't quite what I expected.

Not to say it wasn't a phenomenal ending.  In fact, I found the conclusion particularly satisfying, but it wasn't quite what I anticipated.

The Ugly
The central character of Pirates! is, in fact, a pirate and surrounded by pirates.  By definition, pirates are expected to commit crimes, steal gold, drink rum, swear and curse, and carry out other varying acts of villainy and depravity.

It's just what they do.

So, don't be surprised by what you might read.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Image courtesy of
Mary Shelley

The Summary
Frankenstein tells the story of one man's attempt to play God and the tragedies which invariably ensued that would plague him for the rest of his days.

Alternately, Mary Shelley's novel also reveals the tale of the Frankenstein monster and recounts the horrors he is forced to endure as a leper and an outcast from society - a tragedy to which he is doomed from conception, even if he isn't such a bad fellow after all.

The Good
Frankenstein is a highly gratifying horror novel that combines exceptional detail with a close examination of human psychology and philosophy, and crosses it with a memorable narrator of an obscure moral fiber and warped personality.  (And, yes, I do mean Dr. Frankenstein in this instance.)

More importantly, it's a horror story that doesn't pull any punches, because it will challenge everything you have ever known and understood.  Your spine will tingle, and your mind will reel with the implications Mary Shelley makes.

It's terrifying, it's horrific - and it's absolutely wonderful.

The Bad
Despite it's gruesome nature and relatively unimposing stature, Shelley's novel is startlingly deep and philosophically complex.  As a work of literature, it's a hefty piece that will weigh on your conscience and your mind as you push through the pages.

Moreover, Shelley has a remarkable vocabulary - and she's certainly not afraid to put it to use.  More than most books, I would recommend keeping a dictionary within reach and making notes within the margins.

In short, Frankenstein  is difficult to read, but well worth the attempt.

The Ugly
This novel wreaks of moral ambiguity.

It will leave you wondering about the nature of humanity and its proximity to God.  But, more importantly, it will make you question who really deserves the title of "monster" in Shelley's novel:  the creator or the creation?